Friday, July 1, 2011
Growing Up Amish by Ira Wagler
As I’ve indicated many times before, I’m a fan of Amish fiction. Naturally, when I saw this book offered on the Tyndale Blogger Network, I jumped at the opportunity. Ira Wagler talks about his experience growing up Amish and his inner struggles that led him to leave and return multiple times. One of the challenges I experienced as I read was what I perceived to be Ira’s bitterness that was embedded in his story.
Amish life is portrayed as suffocating with endless rules and regulations. Then again, Ira does emphasize that each district has its own culture. One district might consider the other “weird.” This book really opened my eyes, as I never really thought of the Amish as I would Native Americans who are comprised of many different tribes.
Also interesting is Ira’s explanation of the documentary Devil’s Playground. The documentary follows Amish youth on their rumspringa, which is told to be an experience youths are encouraged to have in order to solidify their decisions to join the Amish church. Ira says that the rumspringa is actually frowned upon and that losing a child to the world brings shame, hurt, and shunning.
Ira’s portrayal of the intimidating and overbearing bishops left a bad taste in my mouth. I could never live where my every move was scrutinized, nor could I be bullied into admitting every sin I had ever committed. Does this ruin my love for the Amish and Amish fiction? Certainly not. After all, the Amish life isn’t for everyone. This was a memoir of Ira’s experience and I appreciated it thoroughly. The Amish aren’t without their struggles. We shouldn’t let their simplistic lifestyle lead us to think otherwise.
Disclosure: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.